It’s now February, I know, but I’m still in goal-setting mode.
I might be one of the few that love January. Once all the decorations are packed up and put in the attic and my house is all clean, I get in the fresh-slate mindset that the new year brings. I like to use the colder days when you don’t really want to be outside, to tackle some things inside. January is when I find myself starting projects and making plans to set in motion in the months ahead.
I love to make New Year’s resolutions. And I’m usually pretty good about keeping them for a while. Except the going-to-bed-earlier thing. That’s on the list every year and I fail miserably…usually by the end of the month if not sooner. It’s a resolution that I make again when school starts back in August.
Setting goals is something I’ve learned that is quite different than New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are hard to measure, and therefore hard to keep, while goal-setting requires you to get specific – if you want to accomplish them, that is.
Two years ago, I made a resolution to read more. I didn’t. Last year I made a resolution to read more – even quantified it by saying “16 books in 2016”. I thought I’d start small. I didn’t even read 10 books I don’t think. So this year I set a goal instead. “17 books (at least) in 2017”. Getting more specific, I am going to try to read two books a month. My goal is to spend 1 hour a day reading. Baby steps.
I love to read, but I don’t read a whole lot of books anymore. That’s what I do before going to bed at night, but I also read magazines and blogs. Anyway, I have a stack of books on my bedside table I can’t wait to open up.
Another goal: getting current on our family photo books. Good gracious. I’m way behind…and that is a beast of a goal. Might be a little too ambitious. We shall see…
To help me get organized, I signed up for a free mini e-course (series of emails/videos) by Ruth Soukup of Living Well Spending Less fame. She is great and I’ve been reading her blog for a long, long time. The course was titled, “Crushing It” and had everything to do with making and achieving the goals you set.
I am a dreamer, and always have been. My dreams span from big God-sized ones to little ones about the month ahead, and everywhere in between. One of the initial exercises in this mini course was writing down your dreams. Honestly, that scared me. My dreams live in my heart, and in my mind, and rarely do I speak about them. Even to Joe, my husband and best friend. I have written about some dreams I have in my journal, but no one reads that.
Something just seemed silly to me about writing my dreams down at first. But, the more I thought about it, the more I understood that to set goals for myself, I needed to know what the ultimate goal was. It was, essentially, to fulfill a dream or being one step closer to fulfill a dream. Then I could ask myself questions like, “What do I need to do this year to get closer to fulfilling that dream?” Ruth’s “think BIG, plan SMALL” strategy is super beneficial. The planning process involves making goals for the current year and then breaking that down into smaller goals for the month, and even smaller for the week ahead. It has really helped me to stay focused.
One last note on the course. Ruth and the team at LWSL have produced a planner that is specifically designed to help you through the goal-crushing process. I have not used an actual paper planner in years. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I used one… My phone’s calendar has worked fine for me. But I thought I’d give it a try, being all excited about my goals and all that. It would be a way to organize each month and each week, keeping me focused. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a planner so, while I looked at several online I loved, including that one, I picked this one up at Target that was way more affordable.
It’s pretty and it’s simple.
Each month has a two-page spread. Then you have a page for miscellaneous monthly notes and a page where you list your goals: work, personal, health and financial. There are also pages for holidays, contacts and notes.
My favorite part is the weekly spread. I fill out my “top three” things I want to focus on, and my specific goal for that week.
I’m optimistic about this. I need to be thinking long-term while working in the short-term. There’s a difference between being productive and getting a lot of things done, and actually doing the things you need to do to help you achieve the things you want to do.
I’ll be making my best effort to go to bed earlier and read more. I will be working on the list of 2017 goals I made while doing the e-course. Personal and work goals. Health and home improvement goals. Family and financial goals. It’s all included.
What about you? Are you a resolution maker or a goal setter, or neither?! What are your tips and tricks for staying focused? I look at some moms – both working and stay at home – and baffled by how they do all they do. Sometimes it’s all I can do to keep the kids alive, do laundry, and (maybe) go through some emails. And, I think, that’s ok too. I definitely have gotten waaaay better about letting the accomplishments on my to-do list define me. It also helps to not play the comparison game. That’s a hard one to learn.
Anyway, best of luck on your goals for 2017! Let’s see where we are come December!